Exiled Tibetan sources say security forces in western China shot and wounded several Tibetans who were trying to commemorate the birthday of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
The sources told VOA Tibetan service that the incident happened on Saturday, the Dalai Lama's 78th birthday, in the Ganzi Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Sichuan province.
They said hundreds of Tibetans, including monks and nuns, tried to ascend a sacred hill in Daofu county to burn incense and offer prayers for the exiled spiritual leader, whom the Chinese government labels a separatist.
The Tibetan exiles said Chinese security forces opened fire to stop the crowd from holding the commemoration, wounding several people who were taken to hospitals for treatment. The Chinese government had no immediate comment.
Chinese authorities have blocked Tibetans from celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday on the hilltop for several years.
The Tibetan sources said a few Tibetans managed to drive to the top of the hill but had their car smashed by the authorities. They said one of those who evaded the security blockade is a brother of Ani Palden Choetso, a nun who self-immolated and died in 2011 to protest Chinese rule in Tibet. About 120 Tibetans have carried out self-immolation protests since 2009 in Tibetan regions of China, including Daofu.
India-based Tibetan exile Lobsang Jinpa said his sources in Daofu described what happened when Chinese security forces confronted the car carrying the Tibetan pilgrims.
"They [security forces] threw rocks at the car that belonged to Ani Palden Choetso’s younger brother, Jangchup Dorje, breaking the windshields. Then they shot at people and fired tear gas. When people tried to approach them to talk, they shot at them and told them to move back. At least seven to eight people were shot and seriously injured," he said.
Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of seeking independence and inciting violent acts, including the self-immolations, which it denounces as the work of terrorists and criminals. The Dalai Lama has said he only seeks meaningful autonomy for Tibet.